MANATEE -- After 35 years of moving up the ranks at the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Chief Deputy Chuck Hagaman will be retiring from the only law enforcement agency for which he has ever worked.
"You reach a point where you want to move over and let the younger guys come in," Hagaman said. "This is a stressful job. You're constantly working morning, noon and night."
In 1977, Hagaman started as a road deputy with the sheriff's office when he was 21. He spent time working in criminal investigations, narcotics, anti-crime and selective enforcement before his promotion to colonel and chief deputy in 2007 when Brad Steube was appointed sheriff.
Steube praised Hagaman's aggressive efforts to solve and prevent crime.
"He and I started at the sheriff's office about the same time. We both were
rising through the ranks," Steube said. "When it came time for my appointment to sheriff there really was no other choice for me for chief deputy than Chuck. We've worked together for so long. We know what each other's actions are going to be. He and I would disagree on a number of issues but at the end of the day both of us would choose the best course of action and still go on as friends."
Hagaman's favorite work was with specialized enforcement where he wrote many grants and launched many initiatives.
"What I enjoyed most was doing innovative programs and getting to work in the communities," Hagaman said. "I enjoyed writing the grants but I never thought I'd turn out to be a grant writer."
And while he liked the work, Hagaman loved the people.
"The memories I have are so many, but the best memories for me are the great people I worked with over the years," he said. "I wrote the programs, but they implemented them."
Hagaman thanked those colleagues at his retirement party Friday night at Renaissance on 9th.
When he officially leaves the sheriff's office Jan. 31, Hagaman has intentions to stay in touch. Hagaman is planning to work as a manager at the Police Athletic League.
"That's a project I want to go over and work on next," said Hagaman, who has been involved with the program for 16 years. "I did a lot of coaching over the years when my kids were little. More than a thousand kids visit that facility, so it's important to keep that going."
Hagaman is looking forward to a little less stress and a little more time with family.
"They gave up a lot for me to have this career," Hagaman said. "My wife and I canceled a lot of dinner dates over the years, and we just want to have more free time together."
Hagaman and his wife, Katie, have been married 30 years.
He also plans to spend more time with his son, Ryan, on the golf course and watch his daughter, Kristen, in all of her soccer games at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.
"It's been a blast, a great career," Hagaman said. "When I saw some of the older managers back in the day I always promised myself when I reached a point I started to slow down, that I would move over. This is a young man's game. I'm 57. It's time to let the next group come in."
Steube is planning to wait at least a year before hiring a second-in-command replacement in order to save the salary to supplement budget cuts.